Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival 2017 Review

So I went along to the Cherry Blossom Festival held at the Auburn Botanic Gardens last weekend. I love going to this event and every year, it’s always on my must-do list. Since this event is only open over a two week period, it can get a little busy. This year, we did things a little differently this time and decided to beat the rush to get there at opening time. This meant we got the chance to snap the blossoms before the lunch rush.

Hanami (flower viewing) is the Japanese tradition of welcoming Spring. This annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature by gathering under the sakura (cherry blossoms).

There’s just something about cherry blossoms isn’t there? In the non-stop world we live in, it’s so refreshing to be able to unplug and just soak up the magic of these whimsical tiny flowers.

I must say, in comparison to my last visit, this year’s crowd control was excellent. The one way in, one way out method had visitors passing through, enjoying the sights and taking their scenic selfies without the feeling of being in a mosh pit.

After viewing the cherry blossoms, we slowed down the pace to enjoy the beautiful sights of the Japanese gardens. It goes without saying these gardens are just breathtaking. I haven’t been to Japan yet, but it’s really lovely to have our own little bit of Japan right in our backyard. I enjoyed seeing so many families come along dressed in their Sunday bests to take some beautiful pics for their family albums.

The other thing I love about these gardens is spotting the peacocks. These have to be the most ostentatious birds of them all.

The weekend schedule was jam-packed. Visitors could take a self-guided tour of the cherry blossom trail, feast on some tasty Japanese snacks from the Food Village, head to the Izakaya Bar to sample some sake or watch a sumo wrestling demonstration at the Sumo Stadium.

We enjoyed the sumo wrestling. The demonstration included the referee explaining the rules of the sport as well as sharing some of the in game rituals. The demonstration was very family friendly and they even got the little ones to participate and take on the wrestlers. Needless to say, it’s pretty obvious who won the sparring session.

Heading across the road to the Peacock gallery, visitors could enjoy some craft in the sun and try their hand at floral headwear and costume making and attend the origami workshop. We also enjoyed some really cool traditional Japanese drumming. Talk about getting a good workout!

To our surprise, MasterChef’s Adam Liaw was there promoting the ‘Love Your Leftovers’ program. Adam showed the audience how to make better use of their leftovers and showed how easy it is to make your own homemade beef stock. Turns out it’s really easy…

Hopefully, the next time you visit the gardens, you get a chance to spot Gary the show-off peacock as you’re leaving the gardens (not his actual name, but a name I gave him because I think he kinda looked like a Gary) He just loves the cameras…

Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival 2017Did you get a chance to visit the Cherry Blossom Festival this year?

Love, Festival Girl

Parramatta Lanes | 11 – 14 October 2016 Review

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So I went along to Parramatta Lanes last night located in, you guessed it, the heart of Parramatta CBD. I was really impressed by the whole event this year and I actually think it was of my favourite visits so far!

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I LOVE all things American BBQ and fried chicken – so my first stop was an obvious one. I decided to hit up ‘Slow Food, Fast Tunes’ at The Roxy Car Park. I really wish I had an unlimited wallet and stomach *drools…

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We sampled the BBQ platter from 2 Smoking Barrels. Based in Wollongong, these guys lugged their smoker all the way to Parramatta. I am no brisket expert, but unfortunately, I found the brisket disappointingly dry. It might have been related to the lack of time in setup, but still, a bit of a shame. I will say that the wings and the pork were really amazing. The pork in particular was right up my alley. BTW, my partner couldn’t stop raving about the little side salad. Hello!?! What about the delicious meat?
parralanes-2016-13 Next up, Butter. If you haven’t visited Butter in Surry Hills, it’s a must. It’s really where all the cool kids go. If you can’t decide if you want some retail therapy or to tuck in on some fried chicken, why not do both? These guys sell sneakers and fried chicken side by side…

We opted for the 3 piece feed with slaw from. Fried crumb? Check. Succulent chicken? Check. Chicken box that reminds me of a shoe box? Check plus plus. I must say there’s a really interesting flavour to their fried chicken that really sets them apart from all the fried chicken producers around town.

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The queue for Butter was insane!

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Kayter Con – I didn’t get to try this place (I was saving my stomach) but they really make some fun looking desserts.
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Some talented street performers captured the attention of everyone around them.

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‘A Garden of a Thousand Years’ is a beautiful installation by Anna McMahon and Annie McKinnon. Made up of upcycled plastic bottles, colourful string and potted flowers. It’s a really dreamy space that has everyone entranced in its beauty. The soft low lighting really helps set the mood. It’s constricting nature makes strangers get really close to one another, forcing them to connect and perhaps in a way, brings us closer together.

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‘The Oasis’ was lit. The bearded bakers from Knafeh Bakery were baking and shaking and had everyone singing and dancing along.

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OMG. If you only have one meal at Lanes, make sure it’s a fresh waffle from these guys – Stroop Bros…. Two worlds – life changing. Delicious fresh made waffles with a gooey real caramel (like toffee) centre. I can’t even.

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So I obviously ate like a pig as I still had a tiny pocket of room for a delicious fresh lamb roll with gravy from Waroo Famous Original Lamb and Gravy Rolls. The fat from the lamb was rendered perfectly and the (real) gravy was one of the best gravy’s I’ve ever had.parralanes-2016-16

With one more night to go, be sure to head to Parramatta Lanes and eat and explore to your hearts content.

Love, Festival Girl

Newtown Festival | 8 November 2015

NewtownFestival_3One of Sydney’s most beloved events, the Newtown Festival is on again and this year, it’s bigger than ever. After humble beginnings 37 years ago, the Newtown Festival has become a neighbourhood icon as it encapsulates the spirit of Sydney’s most vibrant creative community.

So what should you expect from the Newtown Festival this year? The theme this year is ‘Newtopia’ and it’s all about keeping things local. The festival will highlight some of the amazing people, businesses, artists and organisations that the neighbourhood has to offer.

For the first time ever, Newtown’s lords of liquor, Mary’s and Young Henrys will commandeer the bars. We will see the return of the ‘Newtown Locals’ food-fusion zone and as well as that, the best up-and-coming performers, artists and creatives in the neighbourhood will grace the stage. Also at the festival, there will be hundreds of markets stalls, the Live Art Hub, the ever popular Dog Show and if writing is your thing, the Writers’ Tent brings together some of the best local and national writing in the county. The Kids Zone will keep the little ones more than occupied.

NewtownFestival_1One of the Newtown Festival’s greatest features is its emphasis on the sustainable and maintaining sound environmental practices. *Cue Captain Planet theme song* You can check out the wide range of sustainable festival initiatives here.

Funds raised by the Festival go towards providing community support services at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and will help a huge range of community members including disadvantaged groups such as the aged, people with disabilities, people who are homeless, people with mental illness, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people on low incomes. Go humans!

The event is free to attend, but there are donation buckets that are hungry for any loose change you might have, so dig deep.

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Details:

Location: The Festival is held at Camperdown Memorial Rest Park, Newtown.
Entrances: There are six entrance gates at the Festival. Gates 1 and 3 – Lennox Street, Gate 5 – Australia Street, Gates 6 and 8 – Federation Road, Gate 9 – Church Street
Top Tip: Gate 3 is by far the most congested so plan your arrival, and check out the Festival map beforehand so you know where the entrances are. If there is a long line, head to another gate.
Bike: City of Sydney provide FREE valet bike parking on the day! This is located in the park, along the Bike Boulevard (access from Australia Street).
Water: Bring your own water bottle (no plastic bottles yo)

Check here and here for info about the event including more on how to get there.

Images courtesy of the organiser.

Love,

Festival Girl